“…failure with clay was more complete and more spectacular than with other forms of art. You are subject to the elements… Any one of the old four – earth, air, fire, water – can betray you and melt, or burst, or shatter – months of work into dust and ashes and spitting steam. You need to be a precise scientist, and you need to know how to play with what chance will do to your lovingly constructed surfaces in the heat of the kiln.”- A.S. Byatt, The Children’s Book
Germany has been known for its creativity, impressing visitors with their high quality products, carefully designed and built with handcraft to ensure that they last a lifetime. One of the products that has been raved by many in the past 25+ years has been ceramics. Over the summer, when you visit a market square in a German community, do not be surprised to find a pottery market taking place for 1-2 weekends between late June and middle of September, where one can find the right gift made of clay, regardless of where they originate. They can range from flowerpots to wine cups, animal figures to plate sets, gargoyle statues to even coffee cups. People buy them to add to their sets at home, while others like me, buy small pieces bit by bit, to build a set for a loved one. In my case, it was for my grandma before she passed away a few years ago. But even when she was alive, she adored the increasing pottery set featuring plates, cups, jars for jam and the like.
But handcrafting such items take vast amounts of time and effort, and many who embark on this adventure have to forego their full time job in the office to spend time creating pottery, in many cases being dependent on the partner for extra support to help cover the cost for clay, oven, other machinery and cutting utensils. But despite the shortcomings, such an occupation can be a fun experience if one sticks out and attracts the right crowd. 🙂
This two-part article will look at Germany’s obsession with pottery and why they are still popular even to this day. While the second part will feature the art of creating something using clay, the first part has a Guessing Quiz for you to try out. The answers will come when the second part is featured. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the questions for you to try out:
1. Which German states will you most likely find pottery places and markets? Name at least three of them.
2. Use the two pictures below and translate what the expression means in English. Remember, literal senses do not make the best sense. 😉
3. What is a gargoyle? Mark those that apply only.
a. goblin b. angel c. devil d. monster e. alien f. human g. borg
4. Identify this machine, both in German as well as in English and explain what it is used for.
5. Ceramics can be produced using which kind of clay? Which rocks are best for ceramics?
6. What is this gentleman in the picture doing with one of the ceramic pots? What is the purpose of this process?
7. True or False: Any bird can be made using clay. Please note, it is NOT ONLY in connection with pots, as seen in the picture below. T/F
8. Which product can you NOT imagine being made of ceramics?
Thing about these questions, discuss them in the forum, take a stab at the answers, even in the Files’ comment sections or on facebook. When part 2 appears later in the year, the answers will follow, some of which may take you by surprise. Sometimes a visit to a pottery market to look at the products available and research can help you answer the questions. In any case, if there is a pottery market in your neighborhood next time, take advantage of the sunny weather and visit it with your family and friends. Who knows? You might be lucky and have all your loved ones marked off your Christmas shopping list with one swift and impulsive shopping spree with two bags full of ceramic products they will be happy with.
Try it! 🙂
More to come on this topic soon……